How Failure Sparked Founders Approach’s Success
For an entrepreneur, failure is extremely tough to admit. You put on an act and a false sense of confidence that everything is going well. You just launched a product, you are increasing users, you just raised money from investors, so everything is great, right? What outsiders don’t know if you are providing the vanity metrics to make your business look as good as possible. No one wants to admit all of the fires they are trying to put out within their business and how they are hanging on by a thread. You hear all of the stories after the fact of successful entrepreneurs and all of the times they didn’t think their business would make it. The one common thread with these entrepreneurs is that they used failure as a learning and growing experience.
When you accept failure as a learning experience, you have the ability to adapt and improve your business. You will never get it right the first time and feedback/data is crucial in terms of continually growing your business. Too many times entrepreneurs are too close to their own product and don’t see what the market truly needs. This is why collecting feedback and analyzing data is so much more important than your assumptions. Most times your product is completely different than your first version. You learn from your users and customers to iterate the product.
When initially building Loople, we were looking for the right development partner. We started with a friend’s brother as a CTO, which we quickly realized would never work. Then we started getquotes from development companies, which we could not afford as a bootstrapped startup. So we started looking overseas, but had head a lot of horror stories. We spent a lot of time and due diligence to find the right team for us. We were lucky to find a quality team, but that does not mean it was all rainbows and sunshine. We made a lot of mistakes learning the ins and outs of project management. We quickly learned that project management takes a lot of time and effort. If you think you can just pass an idea to a development team and tell them to build it, we can promise you that will not work. Over the course of two years with Loople, we iterated over 30 times between iPhone and Android applications. We were collecting feedback and analyzing data to improve the application, which directly correlated with increasing our user retention.
During this time, we thought our missing piece was a CTO. We blamed this for not growing and scaling faster. Where in all reality our lack of a scalable data collection process and an inconsistent revenue model were the problem that we did not want to admit. It had now been two years without a salary and we were running out of money for Loople, so we started looking at investor opportunities. After countless rejections, we found a serious investor, who ended up not wanting to invest in Loople but wanting us to build an app for him. We believed this would be a great way to make side money to pay the bills and keep growing at Loople. This one project lead to the next and the next, when we realized a market opportunity.
What we initially thought was our weakness, we turned into our strength. We doubled down on this opportunity and went out and became experts in the development and project management space. There are so many free educational materials for people to go out and learn technical and project management skills. Also, we took our failures with Loople to help other founders avoid potentially pitfalls and mistakes along the way. We want founders to know they don’t need a CTO or investors to validate their business. We specialize in helping startups build affordable prototypes, validate early versions of their products, and iterating on their products to scale their businesses.
When we quit our full-time jobs four years ago, this is definitely not the path we envisioned. However, we are thankful for the failures, mentors, and opportunities that have led us to where we are today.”
Dave Phelan, Co-Founder